Will Smith’s biggest regret, according to a recent interview he gave to Jake Hamilton for Fox Chicago, is something that could have impacted his entire career in an entirely different way if he had made this decision instead.
Smith, who will be playing both a present-day and younger version of himself in the new film Gemini Man, revealed his biggest regret is not doing The Matrix when he was offered the role of Neo.
Wait, Will Smith Could Have Starred in The Matrix?
You read that right. Back in 1999, a younger Will Smith made the call to work on a film called Wild, Wild West instead of the sci-fi mind-bender that would go on to define a generation of action cinema. The role of Neo, the protagonist, was up in the air for some time, with stars like Nicholas Cage, Val Kilmer, and Johnny Depp all considered for the role.
As we all now know that role went to action movie royalty and former goofball Keanu Reeves. While today’s audiences likely view Reeves more as a stoic action star, thanks to his roles in John Wick and The Matrix, his casting as a leading man in an action role was something of a gamble in 1999.
Will Smith’s Take on the Situation
When speaking with his YouTube channel, Smith has been candid about his decision to star in the weird western that famously bombed at the box office. He complimented the performances of Reeves and costar Lawrence Fishburne, stating that their unique intensity is part of what made the film work.
Apparently, back in the late 90s, when Smith met the Wachowski siblings, he was “unimpressed.” The siblings are now regarded as some of the most visionary filmmakers of their generation, so it’s a little surprising that Smith was so far off the mark with his judgment call.
Though, to his credit, Will Smith is a genuinely warm and good-hearted guy and seems to have taken this all in stride. He even joked that Reeves was the better casting choice for the film’s tone. “So I probably would have messed The Matrix up. I would have ruined it, so I did y’all a favor,” he joked with his YouTube followers.